Friday 6 December 2019

Four charged over 'Facebook streaming of beating'

Eddie Johnson said the victim, who has
Eddie Johnson said the victim, who has "mental health challenges," is recovering and he called the video "sickening" (AP/Tae-Gyun Kim)

Carla K Johnson in Chicago

Prosecutors have filed hate crime and aggravated battery charges against four black suspects accused of beating and taunting a white man during an attack streamed live on Facebook.

Cook County prosecutors yesterday announced charges against three 18-year-olds - Jordan Hill of Carpentersville, Brittany Covington of Chicago and Tesfaye Cooper of Chicago - and 24-year-old Tanishia Covington of Chicago.

Prosecutors said the four had also been charged with kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. Three have also been charged with burglary.

The charges stem from an incident that went on for up to 48 hours until Chicago police found the victim "in distress" walking along a street.

The victim, who is mentally disabled, was a classmate of one of the attackers and initially went with that person voluntarily, police said. "He's traumatised by the incident, and it's very tough to communicate with him at this point," police commander Kevin Duffin said.

Excerpts of the video posted by Chicago media outlets show the victim with his mouth taped shut slumped in a corner as at least two assailants cut off his sweatshirt and others taunt him off camera. The video shows a wound on the top of the man's head, and one person pushing it with his or her foot. A red band also appears to be around the victim's hands.

Off-camera, people can be heard using profanities about "white people" and Donald Trump. At least one woman is shown in the video.

During much of the video, the victim does not appear to make any attempt to defend himself or to escape his attackers. He is a suburban Chicago resident described by Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson as having "mental health challenges".

The grandmother of a young woman associated with the video said the granddaughter she raised from infancy was "not this person".

"I'm so upset, my head is about to bust open," said Priscilla Covington of Chicago. "I don't know if someone influenced her ... She had her ups and down. [She] was a good person. I'm so confused."

The investigation began on Monday after officers found a man "in distress" and "in crisis" walking on a street on the West Side, Captain Steven Sasso said.

The man was taken to a hospital, and it was later discovered that he had been reported missing.

At about the same time, police took several people into custody at a nearby address where they found signs of a struggle and property damage. Investigators determined that the missing man had been at the same address.

Asked about the racial comments in the video on Wednesday, Cmdr Duffin said the four people in custody were "young adults, and they make stupid decisions".

Irish Independent

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